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Viewing Blog: wordswimmer, Most Recent at Top
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Bruce Black searches for words and stories on Florida's west coast, only a few miles from the Gulf of Mexico.** A writer, editor of children's books, and writing instructor, his stories for children have appeared in Cricket and Cobblestone magazines.** You can contact him at wordswimmer@hotmail.com.
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1. Early Morning Reflections

Excerpts from a recent journal entry: Up early -- 5:45 am. Still groggy from sleep. Yesterday I started typing the historical fiction novel that I've spent the past month writing by hand. Just typing, no edits. Re-reading the story. That's all. As I write this morning, I ask what's the purpose of this journal keeping? Is it a record of what I do? A kind of superficial summary of my life--did

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2. Empty Mind

"Make an empty space in any corner of your mind, and creativity will instantly fill it."--Dee Hock "Once you are empty then there is no barrier for the divine to enter in you." - Osho It may sound like a contradiction to try to empty your mind when you write. After all, if your mind is “empty,” how can you possibly find the words and images you need to set down on paper? But I’d like to

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3. Writing Happens Like This

Writing happens like this: You never know what will appear when you sit down to write. You only know you are a little scared that nothing will happen—no words, no ideas, no thoughts will come—and you'll be left staring at a blank page. So, you sit and wait for something that isn’t yet on the page. And when you find the courage to take that leap of faith and start writing, words do

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4. The Write Stuff

There’s this belief among writers that hidden inside us is all the stuff we need to write. Maybe we're born with this stuff, or maybe we get it from our teachers or parents, or by reading the work of other writers, but we have it and only have to dig deep enough to find it. Of course, we still need to learn how to write. We still need to read lots of books and write lots of words. 

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5. Go, Write!

In the beginning, the page is blank--just blue lines and white spaces. It’s like looking into a mirror. The page serves as the release mechanism, the trigger, the catalyst for thought. But thought itself doesn’t take place on the page. You may look at the lines and the spaces between the lines, but what you see is the image in your head, the image that is not yet on the page. A

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6. Beacon of Light, 2014

Most likely you’ve near heard of the writer who I’ve selected as the Beacon of Light for 2014, but he has served as my inspiration this past year, illuminating the shoals of self-doubt and guiding me past the fears and uncertainties that often accompany the writing process. The writer’s name is Chuck Entwistle, a friend of mine from our days as grad students in the MFA program at Vermont

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7. Cultivate Patience

Writing’s not a career for the faint-hearted or those seeking instant gratification. So much of a writer’s life is spent waiting—waiting for words to come, stories to appear, the next critique group to meet, the response to a manuscript or contract from an editor or agent. Waiting can transform your writing life into a daunting succession of days filled with agony, self-doubt, and

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8. Savor the Light

It’s that time of year when the light changes.  Even in Florida, where writers are accustomed to the sun shining brightly all year long, the days are growing shorter. Over the next few months, we'll watch as the light turns from highly burnished gold to a subtle shade of bronze, and we'll gaze in wonder as this honey-colored light seems to melt from the sky. In the weeks ahead, as

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9. Inside, Outside

In order to write, I need to go inside. Not literally inside a room or a building but inside myself. I spend weeks, months, and often years on a project learning how to do this, how to get past my outer self and step into the inner imaginary world that I'm trying to create. It doesn't happen automatically. Even after years of writing, this process takes time and thought, and the

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10. Each Story Begins With a Choice

Every time we sit down to write, we must make a choice. Do we play it safe or do we take a risk? Do we create a story that lets us feel safe and grounded, a story that removes danger (and threats of danger) from our world? Or do we create a story that forces us to climb a high wire and take risks, to reach into the dark box of our hidden (and not-so-hidden) fears and confront them?

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11. Where’s the tension?

Without tension, it’s almost impossible to hold a reader’s attention and keep her turning the pages of your story. And yet many of us, despite knowing this (that tension is a key ingredient in sustaining a reader’s attention), produce stories that lack tension. Why is it, I wonder, that it’s so hard to create a story with tension? Tension, as a noun, is defined as “the state of being

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12. The Power of the Sea

We would stand on the beach at Montauk, a boy and his father, looking out past the easternmost point on Long Island, and I'd strain to hear my father’s words as the ocean waves broke in front of us, crashing and thundering to reveal their power. “Never turn your back on the ocean,” my father would warn me. “The riptides are treacherous.” Some of the waves were five and six feet tall, and my

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13. Coming to Terms With Yourself

When Harper Lee was asked what advice she’d give a young writer, she wrote: “Well, the first advice I would give is this: hope for the best and expect nothing. Then you won’t be disappointed.” And she went on to say: “You must come to terms with yourself about writing. You must not write “for” something, you must not write with definite hopes of reward. People who write for reward by way of

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14. Diving into each moment

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15. Stuck in the Muck

It happens when you least expect it. You take a turn down a road that looks promising and before you realize what’s happening the tires sink into the muck and you can’t back out. Or you are swimming in clear water and the next thing you know there are weeds tangled around your arms and legs and you are sinking into the mud. Your brain is stuck, your pen is frozen. Words have vanished;

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16. The Path to the Sea

Here is the path that we’ll take to the sea. It’s the beginning of our journey. We don’t know where the path will lead us. (We have no maps, no clues.) All we can do is walk toward the clouds ahead and hope we’ll find the sea. The clouds offer a glimmer of hope, a way to go. And we head toward them  It’s a hunch, an intuitive feeling. And we follow that feeling

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17. Are You A Writer?

Can you accept imperfection? Can you accept that you'll need to revise again and again (and still again), that the word you're looking for may not appear until the twentieth or thirtieth draft?  Can you accept that one day your writing will flow like wine and the next day the well may run dry and all you can do is sit at your desk and stare for hours at an empty screen? Can you accept that

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18. My Writing Process Blog Tour

One of my favorite writers and illustrators, Michelle Edwards, was kind enough to invite me to join the My Writing Process Blog Tour. Michelle has written and illustrated numerous books for children, including the National Jewish Book Award winner, Chicken Man. If you enjoy knitting, you might like to pick up her book on knitting for adults, A Knitter's Home Companion, an illustrated collection

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19. Gazing Inward

“In the depths of winter I finally learned that there was within me an invincible summer.”   -Albert Camus  “To write is to turn this inward gaze into words, to study the world into which that person passes when he retires into himself, and to do so with patience, obstinacy, and joy.” – Orhan Pamuk  So often if we want to write stories, we are told to look and listen for them as if they are “

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20. Cracking Open Your Words

When we revise our work, it is often difficult to see past the polished prose that we’ve spent so much time burnishing to a high gloss. And that’s the problem. Words that are too polished can provide the illusion of completion while hiding the flaws of a story beneath the glimmer and shine of the polish. When you revise your work, you have to look differently at your words. You have

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21. The True Source of Dreams

Lately, I’ve noticed how some writers are getting more and more discouraged because they aren’t able to place their manuscripts with their long-time publishers or agents. After many years of writing and publishing, they are becoming pessimistic about the future of their work. Editors don’t respond to their submissions, agents no longer call or else tell them that their work isn't current,

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22. Trusting Instinct

Over the past few weeks, as I approach the end of a work-in-progress, I find myself spending a good deal of time revising and thinking about the final chapters. These chapters have changed dramatically since I started out. Indeed, the entire book has changed. It has deepened. It has become more of a story. I’m sure the manuscript will need another pass or two, maybe more, before I feel

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23. Writing Works (For Me) Like This

I’ll feel the pull of a current, and I’ll wait for the current to get stronger. If I pursue the pull of the current before it’s strong enough, I won’t be able to ride the wave of the story because it doesn’t yet have enough force or momentum to carry me. So, I wait and mull and think, letting the wave, the idea, build and gain strength. When I can no longer resist its pull, I let the

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24. Learning to Accept Criticism

Learning to accept criticism is a part of our job as writers—perhaps one of the hardest parts of the job—but few of us are comfortable hearing criticism of our work and often misinterpret it. Rather than accepting as a gift the heartfelt comments of a reader who may point out serious or not-so-serious problems in a narrative, we often bristle and choose to dismiss the comments as irrelevant

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25. The Path

When we pick up our pen to write, we step onto a path. It’s not a clearly marked path. If we look for it stretching out ahead of us, we won’t see it. No flags mark its direction.  No paving stones or shells indicate where we need to step or warn us when we may veer off the path. For some of us it’s a path that we follow for a week or month, for others a semester or a year.

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